Friday Finds

It’s been awhile since my last post on new things I’ve discovered. So here are some things that I’ve collected since then including:

  • Sortd: a super useful task list skin for Gmail
  • Office Lens: a mobile app that lets you translate photos of documents into editable Word and PowerPoint
  • Photopea: a free, online graphics editor for Photoshop (.psd) files
  • AppSheet: The quickest, easiest way to create a mobile app.

Sortd Smart Skin for Gmail

Sortd is a Gmail ‘skin’ that transforms your email conversations into a usefule, intuitive task list workspace right inside Gmail!

If you ever lost track of important emails in your inbox despite Herculean efforts to flag, start, and label messages you’ll love how Sortd helps you escape that mess. With sorted you’ll get a new to do / task list view where you can simple drag your emails to organize them is a way that is logical to you. You can even rename them to something better than the email subject line which is another big plus.

The thing I like best about this app is that you can toggle it on and off if you ever want to peak back at the normal Gmail views. Hop on over to and give it a look. You’ll be glad you did!

Office Lens

Office Lens is a great app for capturing whiteboard notes and paper documents and saving them into a PDF, email, OneNote, etc.  Whle it’s been around for awhile now., a recent update makes it even more usefuly by adding the ability to convert pictures of whiteboard notes and paper documents directly into editable Word documents and PowerPoint presentations.

(Available on iOS, Android, & Windows)

Here is the process for how it works.

Convert a hard copy document into an editable Word document


Convert a whiteboard drawing into a PowerPoint presentation


If you’re curious you can check out these  actual examples:

Learn more at


There are a wealth of great Photoshop design assets available on the web. But what if you don’t have the money to shell out for an expensive Photoshop license that enables you to work with them? One good option is Photopea, a free online graphics editor that handles..PSD files like a pro.



AppSheet is one of the slickest, most useful apps I’ve seen lately. It lets non-developers build custom mobile apps. While so many things are moving to mobile apps, getting something up and running can be next to impossible unless you’re an app coding pro.

AppSheet lets non-developers build custom mobile apps quickly and easily – no coding required. AppSheet works by connecting with information you populate in a spreadsheet and then it guides you the rest of the way. With this, you can have a nice, useful app up and running in a flash. And it’s FREE to boot!

Take if for a spin with these sample apps:


Converting Keynote to PowerPoint

Every once in awhile I find a great looking Keynote slide deck, like these over at Site2Max, and I think how great it would be to bring it over into PowerPoint to customize it. Fortunately, there is a super simple and free way to do just that – even if you don’t have access to the Keynote software. Here is how it works.

Converting a Keynote file to PowerPoint

The first step is uploading the Keynote file to the free, online version of Keynote via Create a free account if you don’t already have one.


Next, open the Keynote app and upload the .key file by dragging it into your browser tab displaying the Keynote online app.

upload keynote

Click to view video:

After uploading, open the slide deck and look for the “Download a Copy…” option under the Keynote tools button at the top right. (wrench icon)


Keynote tools icon

Choose PowerPoint as the download format and off you go!!

You Already Know How to Build mLearning (You Just Don’t Know It)

Here are the slides from my recent FocusOn Learning session in Austin, TX You Already Know How to Build mLearning (You Just Don’t Know It)

A big thank you to everyone who was there and feel free to share it with others!

12 Apps of Christmas-Day 8 -Power User for PowerPoint

Day 1 – Hemmingway App (Writing help)
Day 2 – PollEverywhere (PowerPoint audience participation add-in)
Day 3 – The Great Suspender (Memory Manager – Chrome add-in)
Day 4 – Grammarly (Writing -Chrome add-in)
Day 5 – Dropbox for Gmail (Chrome add-in)
Day 6-  Canva (online graphics tool)
Day 7 –  Google Drive for Office  (Office add-in)

Just about everyone uses PowerPoint at some point. If you’re more than just a sometime user you should check out the Power User plug-in to see how much time it can save you.

After installing the Power User plugin, you’ll see a new “Power-user” tab which gives you a nice type of mission control for your slide creation and editing efforts.

It has tons of features, but let me use just one example to illustrate how useful it is. If you ever need to ‘fix’ a slide deck, you’ll love some of Power User’s clean up functions which automatically removes things like double blank spaces in your text, empty placeholders, footers and more.


Power User adds some nice features to PowerPoint that are otherwise unavailable. Take these alignment options for example. Without this new tab, aligning shapes to touch each other is a manual operation.


PowerUser-Alignment Options

Power User automates that a many other things you’ve wished PowerPoint could do and some you’ve probably never thought of!

In the spirit of Christmas, licences can currently be downloaded for free as a special kick-off offer. So head over there today so you can enjoy your free license and spread the word.

Friday 5: PowerPoint Social Sharing, Curated Design Resources, Trello Integrations, Skype For All, New Image Format

PowerPoint Social Share Plug-in

If you do any presenting at conferences, etc you probably already know about the #backchannel. Now you can easily share all or part of your PowerPoint presentation directly to Twitter & Facebook with the new Social Share plug-in.

The Microsoft Garage project lab has released Social Share, a free plug-in for PowerPoint to allow for instant social sharing of presentations and parts of presentations from within the program. You can share a whole deck or just a single composed slide.

Awesome Stock Resources

A great list of awesome stock photography, video and illustration websites by Tony Phipps ‏@neutraltone.

Add a little bit of body text

Trello Integrations

Trello is one of my favorite ways of managing tasks and projest. The two biggest reasons are flexibility and simplicity. Now you can add to that a large list of integrations. Check these out to see how Trello earn a place in your workflow by playing nicely with other apps you already use.

Skype for All

Skype is the go-to VoIP app a lot of people and now Skype has a new option for connecting with anyone without requiring them to be a Skype user. Now you can lead a Skype session via a direct link.

It’s pretty simple: Users of Skype for Windows, Skype for Mac, or Skype for the Web will soon be able to send friends a link. Once they accept it, they’ll be able to launch Skype from the web and join the conversation. Also, if you have a Skype name and a Skype mobile app, you can share a conversation link from Skype for iPhone, iPad and Android just by clicking the link.

Skype said the new link-sharing feature should be live now within the United States, and should be live throughout the rest of the world in a few weeks. Sharing a mobile conversation will be added “soon,” Microsoft said.

BPG: New & Improved Image Format

BPG stands for Better Portable Graphics, and it’s a new image format, the aim of which is to replace JPG. To do this, BPG delivers the best of both worlds: superior quality, and smaller file size. Get the scoop on this new format in this article.

I’m clumsy…and proud of it.

One of my favorite posts of all time by Betsy Hubbard on LinkedIn.

“I want to show my kids that it’s fine to be bad at something”

PowerPoint: Mac vs Windows

In my now, not so new role at Mindset Digital we have both Mac and Windows people. Both doing a LOT of work in PowerPoint.  In general, it seems that the odd of needing to share slide decks between Mac and Windows computers are much higher today than ever before.


If you’ve ever compared PowerPoint Mac vs the Windows version you’ll, know that they are totally different. So if you ever run into that situation here are a few things that can help you navigate it successfully.

THINK FOLDERS: The first thing you should do to do is create an empty folder for every presentation you create to hold all the media assets, including pictures, sounds and movie files – put them in this folder before inserting them as a link within the PowerPoint. If you need to link to Word documents, Excel sheets, PDFs, or other documents – copy them all to this folder before you create links to them from your PowerPoint slides.

Be sure to share the entire folder and all of it’s contents. Dropbox or something similar makes this super easy.

STAY CURRENT: You should keep all your software up to date. Compatibility issues are often fixed in updates. You can check for the latest service packs for Microsoft Office installed for Windows here: or for macs here:

UPGRADE: The latest version of PowerPoint (2013 for Windows and 2011 for Mac) have fewer compatibility issues than previous versions.

USE THE COMPATIBILITY CHECKER: PowerPoint for the Mac includes a Compatibility Report option that checks for compatibility issues with profiles of all versions of PowerPoint on Windows and Mac – right back to PowerPoint 97 and 98 – it then tells you exactly what features may be compromised, and what will not work.

PowerPoint 2013 has a similar Compatibility Checker that can be accessed from File | Check for issues – but this option only looks at compatibility issues with older versions of PowerPoint on Windows –  no help on problems with Mac versions.

VIEW ONLY FUNCTIONS: You might find some functions that allow editing on one platform but can only be viewed in slideshow mode of the other. For example, Motion Path animations in PowerPoint for Windows – they’ll play on a Mac but you can’t add or edit motion path them.

FONTS: Use fonts that can be found as standard on Windows and Mac – these include Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New, Verdana, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, or Calibri.

Don’t space out your text too tightly – font rendering differences may add an extra line to a text box on either Windows or Mac versions of PowerPoint.

EMBEDDED OFFICE DOCS:  Most embedded objects in PowerPoint presentations created on Windows do not translate very well to the Mac version. Insted of embedding these files (Word, Excel, PDF, etc.), use hyperlinks to link them to the presentation file. Make sure those files always stay in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation.Microsoft Word tables and Excel spreadsheets pasted inside PowerPoint can cause cross-platform problems. Either redo the table using PowerPoint’s native table engine, or create a link to the Word or Excel document. This is not as much an issue between PowerPoint 2007 for Windows and PowerPoint 2008 for Mac – but can be a problem in earlier versions on both OSs.

TABLES & SPREADSHEETS: Microsoft Word tables and Excel spreadsheets pasted inside PowerPoint can cause cross-platform problems. Either redo the table using PowerPoint’s native table engine, or create a link to the Word or Excel document. This is less of a problem now than it used to be but you still might want to keep an eye on it.

COLORS:  Macs and PCs have differences in how colors are displayed. That means slide colors created on a Windows PC will not been seen as the same on a Mac. They’ll be lighter on a Mac.

Get Things Done Faster With This Handy PowerPoint Toolbar

If you’re anything like me,  you love anything that enables you to do things more efficiently. (And who doesn’t like that?) So with that in mind, I’d like to share the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) that I use in PowerPoint.

The QAT is basically your own personalized toolbar that puts all your favorite and most used functions in a single, easy to access place. No more extra clicking to find the right tab or sub-menu!

Another cool thing about them is that you can share them with others. So here is mine. It will give you a big head start and you can always tweak this to suit yourself after you get it.

Go ahead and grab a copy. It takes about 2 seconds to import it and you’re off to the races! If you need instructions for importing this into your PowerPoint set up, you can get them here.


Download my PowerPoint toolbar

I got my own headstart from Bright Carbon , Tom Kuhlmann and slidor.

Here are a few other things you may be interested in if you start playing around with your own Quick Access toolbar. Note that this works the same way in other applications including Word, Excel, Articulate Storyline and others.

How to Customize the QAT

How to Create a Customized E-learning Toolbar in Articulate Storyline

Free Skitch Inspired Icon Set

I’m a big fan of Evernote’s screenshot tool, Skitch. If you take many screenshots you should definitely check it out – for a free app it is hard to beat. One of the things I like about it, are the great looking, built in icons. For a recent project, I wanted to use a similar style icon set, but needed more options and sizes that what is available in Skitch. So I created several version in PowerPoint and thought I’d share them in case they’re useful for anyone else.

I used the free Sosa font, but you can use any other font or icon images you want.


Feel free to grab a copy of my PowerPoint file and use them for any of your own projects.   |

Merry Christmas!

Publishing PowerPoint/Articulate to DVD

Since we’re developing materials for people working in power plants, we have a fair number of the people in our audience do not have easy access to a PC. ( Imagine the guy driving a bull dozer in a coal yard for instance.)  It’s much easier for them to find a TV/DVD player than a computer, so we often make DVD versions of our Articulate classes to make it easier for them to access certain courses.

One important thing to remember is that just because you save your project onto a DVD does NOT mean that it will play on a TV/DVD player.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. PowerPoint slides (duh!)
  2. Audio files/Narration (I use Audacity)
  3. Your favorite screen capture tool (optional – I use SnagIt)
  4. A video editing program (I use Windows Movie Maker)
  5. A DVD authoring tool (I use DVD Flick)

Here is the process we use:

Step 1. Save your PowerPoint slides as “PNG”,”JPG” images.

There are different ways to capture your slides as images. The easiest way is to do a “Save as…” from PowerPoint and choose one of the image formats.

However I’ve found that the best way is to take screen shots. This has two benefits. First I get better image quality by taking my screenshots of the slides with SnagIt in .PNG format. And secondly, you can “fake” animations by incrementally capturing slides with bullet lists, etc.  For example a slide with 3 bullet points would be captured with three screenshots – one for each bullet. This gives the appearance of animation in the video.

Step 2. Import the pictures into Windows Movie Maker

Step 3. Select all the imported images and add them to Storyboard

Step 4. Import the audio/narration into Movie Maker

Step 5. Add the imported audio files to the Storyboard and sync them with the images

(Optional) You can add titles, transitions, call outs and video effects to the slides if you like.

Step 6. Save the slide show as Movie File

When you save videos to DVD for viewing on television, it is important to be familiar with the various standard media formats for televisions, because most of the formats are mutually incompatible. In the US you’ll want to select the High quality video (NTSC) option.

The format used in America and Canada is NTSC (National Television System Committee). Western Europe and Australia use PAL (Phase Alternating Line) formatting, and Eastern Europe and France use SECAM (Sequential Color with Memory) formatting. Most DVD authoring software , including DVD Flick, gives you the choice of saving your video to either NTSC or PAL formatting for television.

NOTE: If you save your file for viewing on a television, the resolution may appear blurry on the computer.

Step 7. Burn the resulting .avi video file using your DVD authoring software.  See the DVD Flick help guide for details.

Depending on your content, you might want to consider creating a menu that allows viewers to navigate various sections of your DVD.

ADDED BONUS: If you want or need to get your PowerPoint/Articulate content into a format compatiable with the iPad you could use this same method and publish to an iPad compatible format instead of DVD format.

Another option that I’ve used in the past is to simply play your published Articulate course and use a screen recording program, (I use Camtasia) to capture it as a video file, then burn that using your DVD authoring software.  This option also works well and might be a little bit quicker if you don’t need to add or tweak anything in the video version of your course.

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